Somehow, I got on a funeral list. I am not talking about a specific funeral, but trends that go on in the funeral industry. I know this is a macabre topic, but since it is officially the month of Halloween, I think I can justify writing about it. Anyway, my first thought as to why I ended up getting the updates on trends in the funeral industry was that I must have done an article on this topic, but I cannot for the life of me remember researching or doing such a piece. Granted, there have been articles that I do not remember writing, but I believe that this subject matter would stick in my brain – at least a bit.
So, I have decided that my husband must be investigating the topic. When he researches things, he gives everyone my email address, so his email box doesn’t get filled with spam. Somewhere along the line, my email address has become our family’s clearing house for stuff they were interested in, but don’t want to be contacted about. Now, I am left wondering why he is investigating funerals and should I watch what I eat when he cooks.
This latest email on funerals led to an article about “Do-it-yourself” funerals. Apparently, in these tough economic times, people are looking to cut corners wherever they can and a relative’s funeral is no exception. Why spend $8,000 to put Grandma in the ground when you can shave half of the costs if you do some of the stuff on your own. Again, this is a red flag for me with my husband. He is a human being who loves to get a good deal, so allow me to ask a favor here: If there comes a time when someone out there says, “Gee, I haven’t heard from Donna in a while”, would you please ask someone to check my freezer? It’s in the basement. Down the steps, hang a left. Thanks.
Do you know it’s perfectly legal to do your own funeral? It’s not that long ago that people did have wakes in their homes. There were no funeral parlors. You just parked the casket next to the sofa and let the booze flow and the mourning begin. Now, for most of us, it seems a bit creepy having a dead body in the house. However, with the rising costs of such an event, the funeral industry is telling customers or soon-to-be customers that a funeral can be a shared experience.
For instance, to cut down on “preparation”, you can opt to wash down the deceased yourself. You can do the makeup and dress the body, etc. Now again, I don’t have a problem with this, but personally, if my funeral is going the economic route, I want someone who is good at makeup. I don’t want someone who has held a grudge toward me or my family near me with lipstick or — and I can’t emphasize this enough — a curling iron.
You might be asking who would want to prepare their own loved one’s body. Well, would you be surprised to learn that if you are a “green” person, opting to prepare the body and foregoing embalming is helping out Mother Earth? Yep, embalming chemicals and whatever else they do in funeral parlors in not a “green” procedure, so a do-it-yourself job eliminates chemical waste and the deceased becomes great mulch along the way. I could see my husband liking the mulch idea and planting me in the vegetable garden. Okay – new thought. If I’m not in the freezer, go to the garden. It’s at the end of the backyard by the fence.
There are a few caveats with the whole body-in-the-house thing. First, most states have a limit on how long you can keep a dead body in your residence. Secondly, funeral professionals suggest that even if your event is taking place in the midst of a blizzard, you need to crank up the air conditioning or have on hand a lot of dry ice.
When you do plan a “home” funeral, know that you can ask a funeral parlor for help in different ways. Apparently, most do offer a-la-cart services now. For instance, perhaps you need help transporting the deceased from one place to another. I wouldn’t underestimate the value of transportation. This is something best left up to the professionals. Otherwise, you have to think about things like do you throw the body in the back seat or trunk? How do you get the body from the car to wherever you are going to put them in the house? Do you use a Dolly or a wheel barrel? If there are stairs involved, how are you going to get the cadaver up and down the stairs without dinging your walls? I hate dings in my walls.
To me the difference between a good at-home funeral and a disaster lies in the details. From what I read, a good funeral parlor will give you a loaner casket for transportation or you can rent one. You don’t need a good one if your beloved is becoming mulch or if you are planning cremation.
Oh, and for the record, and this is important: you cannot do your own cremation! It doesn’t matter how hot you can get the grill or fireplace, this is still against the law throughout the country except in those backwoods areas where you can still marry your first cousin. Also, remember to get all the right permits for a do-it-yourself event. You have to check with the county and state to make things legal.
I hope you didn’t think my report on do-it-yourself funerals too depressing, but I found this new trend to be interesting. I cannot emphasize enough that funeral professionals do go to school for a long time to learn their trade, and I cannot imagine that a do-it-yourself event is an easy task to accomplish. It’s not a fun project to tackle like remodeling your own bathroom. If you flub up this event, you will never live it down – so to speak.